Tour De France All-Time Top 25 Riders (No.10-6)
Surprisingly as we move into the top 10 the cream rises and while the positions here are not going to make everyone happy, I can image there is a legion of Poulidor fans who will find his place in the top 10 justified.
As for the riders in this segment, a five time winner, a 6 time Rainbow jersey winner, and a rider who never won a tour, but podiumed
10- Nicolas Frantz
Nicolas Frantz won the Tour de France twice, as well as placing second on two more occasions.
So why is he ahead of Bartali and Coppi, you ask? Neither of those two raced on an undersized women's bicycle in order to finish a stage (it was later replaced with a suitable team bike) after his own frame broke 100km from the finish.
Simple... he won 20 stages between 1924-1929 and, in his 1928 victory, he wore the yellow jersey from start to finish. Tack on the last 14 stages of the 1927 Tour and he was in yellow an amazing 36 consecutive stages!
9- Raymond Poulidor
The eternal second actually finished 3rd more times and is behind two others on our countdown in second place finishes.
Raymond Poulidor never won a Tour de France, and not once wore yellow, but in 14 years, he finished second three times, and third an additional five.
The "Eternal Second", Poulidor fell into an era that saw Anquetil and then Merckx dominate the Tour, much as Indurain and Armstrong put a stranglehold on the yellow jersey from the early 1990's till the mid-2000's.
In this countdown 8 podium placings vault him over multiple tour winners and into our top 10. A fitting place for a man who won pretty much everything outside the Tour, including an overall at the 1964 Vuelta Espana.
8- Jan Ullrich
Where Poulidor was the eternal second to Anquetil and Merckx, Ullrich ran up against Lance Armstrons incredible run, and was the only rider to finish within a minute of Armstrong in his prime.
To add insult to injury, he is known more for his partying and "the look" than he is for being a Tour winner, which unlike Poulidor, he is.
Infamous for gaining weight in the winter, then fighting through the early season to lose the kilos, he once remarked "I see many skinny bike racers, but very few Tour winners..
Seven podiums in his career land Jan Ullrich firmly in the top ten, and if not for that Armstrong guy, it might be Ullrich we are debating as to who is the top rider of his generation, and arguably Tour History. In addition to his Tour win he was the best young rider from 1996-1998.
7- Lucien Van Impe
Lucien Van Impe won the Tour de France once, was second once, and was third three times.
He won the mountain's jersey an incredible six times, tying Federico Bahamontes’ Tour de France record (at that time).
15 Tours de France appearances leaves him second on the list behind Joop Zoetemelk of Holland with 16 and Goerge Hincapie of the United States.
Van Impe finished on the podium five times and nine times in the top ten.
Van Impe won the 1976 Tour de France in front of Joop Zoetemelk of Holland and Raymond Poulidor of France.
Van Impe was also 2nd in the 1981 Tour de France behind Bernard Hinault of France.
In addition, Van Impe was 3rd in the 1971 Tour de France behind Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Joop Zoetemelk.
Van Impe was 3rd in the 1975 Tour de France behind Bernard Thevenet of France and Eddy Merckx
6- Miguel Indurain
So we have four five-time winners and a seven-time winner, that means the top five should be pretty much a lock, right?
Not so fast, stage victories, podiums, and other jerseys weigh in on the placings, and while the Big Mig dominated time trials during his reign (10 ITT wins), he was not a gifted climber, but he was good enough to conserve his losses in the mountains and then bury people with his time trialing.
Indurain rode to five consecutive Tour victories, from 1991-1995.
So how is he number six on the list?
His victories were incredible feats of power and defensive riding, but lacked panache, or flair.